Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mount Seymour on a Spectacular Fall Day.

It was a wet week in Vancouver - probably our worst weather week since the Spring. But the weather cleared for Saturday and Sunday and wow what spectacular fall days! Saturday we spent time on the seawall in Vancouver, and Sunday we climbed Mount Seymour with Kirsty and Glyn. Mount Seymour is one of the North Shore Vancouver ski mountains in Winter and a popular hiking area in Summer. Hard to believe that we will probably be snowshoeing here in a matter of weeks.  We started just after 9 am (I had to negotiate the late start!) but we still managed to beat the crowds who were heading up on our descent. Mount Seymour towers over Vancouver at 4,754 feet. It is a massive mountain with 2 sub peaks, 1st pump and second pump. The peak is named 3rd pump. That's Glyn at the top of this rock section. Thankfully the rock was dry!

My turn!
The top of 2nd pump - snack break!
The top of Mount Seymour! Fantastic panoramic views.
The view from the top of Mount Seymour is truly spectacular on a clear day like today. You can see Vancouver to the south, part of Indian Arm to the east, Grouse Mountain to the west, and an enormous section of the Coastal Mountain Range to the north. That is Cathedral Mountain in the background of this picture. Neil, Dave and I were there almost a year ago to the day as part of the Bagger Challenge.


 
 Kirsty's panoramic view.

Both Saturday and Sunday evening I took my bike down to the Pitt Meadows dykes to enjoy the evening before the sun set. The views were truly spectacular with nice reflections on the calm water. Last night I came upon photographers capturing the perfect light - tonight I saw a painter all set up with her easel trying to replicate the beauty.

 
 

Oh so peaceful...the calm before the autumn storms. Happy Autumn!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Sea to Sky Gondola and the Skyline Ridge Trail

This past spring a new Gondola opened in Squamish. It takes people up to 2,905 feet into some spectacular scenery and formerly inaccessible terrain. With it being the last official summer weekend with outstanding weather - it was our Sunday destination.
After cruising at a good pace along dirt roads the trail started to climb and the path narrowed. We followed the Skyline Ridge Trail which took us quite high into the alpine.
That's the town of Squamish below. We were getting really up there.
The views were amazing. We stood directly across from this rocky beast. Mount Habrich which is at 5,879 feet.
That's Kirsty, myself and Rachel. Neil was out numbered 3:1 on this outing. ;-)
Sky Pilot (6,663 feet) and Co Pilot (6,171 feet) appeared after some significant climbing. The trails were freshly cut in sections making it very pleasant to travel on.
One of Kirsty's Panoramic Views!
 
A little closer to Sky Pilot and Co Pilot.
The trail travels by several very peaceful alpine lakes.
Along the journey we saw some large bear scat and fresh paw prints in the soil. It was bear country!
 
We turned around after about 3 hours of climbing. Our purpose for the day was to check out the area that the new gondola has opened up. Another photo opportunity of the views before descending.
 
What a great day out! 5 hours 15 minutes total return trip back to the Gondola.The weather was so warm for being late in September. Fall officially begins tonight so that may have been one of the last outings of the summer. This area will be so great for winter activities such as snow shoeing. We are going to purchase winter passes for the Gondola so we can enjoy the back country this winter. There is a whole new playground that is now accessible  ;-)
 
 
 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mount Baker

This Saturday, Dave, Helen, Neil, Chris and I headed over the USA border to visit the Mount Baker area which is a 1.5 hr drive from our home. Mt. Baker is a somewhat dormant volcano although on cold winter days you can see the steam from afar streaming out the summit crater.  Mt. Baker is on the same geological fault line as Mt. St. Helens which blew apart in a volcanic eruption in the early 1980's.  The last time Neil and I were here was many years ago  for a ski trip in the winter months. I recall several feet of snow lining the road up the mountain. With the great summer the West Coast has had this year, the snow was all gone for a beautiful day on the trails. Our destination to park the car was at the end of the Mount Baker highway at what is known as Artist Point which boasts 360 degree views of Mount Shuskan and Mount Baker with  access to a variety of trails.
Where we started at Artist point is over 5,000 feet above sea level and it is typically buried under snow October through June. Not yesterday - it was a trail runners dream!
Chris and Dave in the shadow of Mount Baker.
We went as far as the trail did - lunch break!
Awesome views of Mount Baker which is climbed from the other side for the quickest access for those who enjoy glacier routes.
 
Almost back to the car - heavy breathing on the climbs at over 6,000 feet. Love it!
 
Last weekend we travelled to Lethbridge, Alberta where Neil completed the 100km Lost Souls Ultra Marathon in 16hours 15 mins. It was a hot day and tough course. Well done Neil! I was signed up for the 50 km the next day but I didn't get to bed until 3 am when my crewing job was done. 2 hours sleep after 17 hours of crewing wasn't going to be smart for a 50 km run. Watching the carnage on the trail all day was also not motivating me to head out there for a day that was predicted to be even hotter than the day Neil ran his event.  Next year...50km it is! See you next time Lost Souls!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Walk in the Park - Kamloops, BC

 
It felt so great to be back at the trail run that is "Walk in the Park" in Kamloops. We were regular participants in this event in the past with our last  appearance being in 2009! Oh my how the years fly by! That is crazy. Glad that cycle is broken! Walk in the Park is a trail run on the spectacular trails of Kenna Cartwright Park in Kamloops, BC. It is a loop course with 3 distances, 1 loop at 18km, 2 loops at 36km and 3 loops making it an ultra event at 54km. Race Director Supreme is Chris Laroche who does a fantastic job of keeping the event low key and welcoming every runner with a personal greeting no matter what one's goal and result is for the day. I have participated in all 3 distances in the past including two 54 km outings. This year my goal was simple, 1 loop (18km). Neil's goal was 2 loops (36km). We both have ultra events next week, I am doing a 50km and Neil 100km event in Lethbridge, Alberta. So for training, Walk in the Park together with other mileage we did this long weekend gave Neil about 60 km of running and myself about 40km.
This is the start for the 2 loops (36km). Neil and I left Maple Ridge at 5am to join the 9 am start line. We drove through several rain storms on the way to sunny Kamloops so the morning journey was a bit slow.  I joined this start time so Neil and I could be on the road back home at a reasonable time. That's myself, Dave and Neil in the back on the left.
The views from these trails are spectacular. With my goal of doing just one loop I felt that I had the opportunity to really enjoy the journey. The views were awesome and I had several moments of thinking "this is so nice". What great trail running! Indeed, picture perfect single track trail running. It does not get much better than this! So I did enjoy the journey but did have a few moments of self doubt in the last 1/4. I thought I had gone wrong on the course and it felt like I was heading out on the loop again and not heading to the finish. Finally, the flags headed me down and I knew I was on course. Whew!
The Thompson River below with Stormy skies
The trail is dry with Sage brush and wispy grass. There are several steep ups and downs. The downs are tricky as it is so steep and the dirt gives out under your feet.

At the top of the hill!
This is me having just finished the 18km loop and Craig who just finished his second loop of 3. I almost caught him, I could see him just ahead of me near the finish of the loop.  
Craig finishing his 3rd loop, that's Chris the RD in the blue jacket congratulating Craig as he finished.
Craig - happy to be finished!
 
Neil completed 36k, myself 18km, Craig 54km and Dave 36km. Well done Team Dodgy!
Today, our recovery run at the UBC Research Forest in Maple Ridge was full of excitement! First momma bear runs across the road in front of us and proceeds to rear up on her hind legs to check us out. Neil proceeds to stand still and take out his iPhone for some pictures. I know momma bear was hoping to see him move away - momma bear then sent one of her cubs out of the bush to check us out. Baby bear starts running towards us and I start making a hasty retreat shouting for Neil to follow. Finally - the Veterinarian has finished his inspection of the bears and joins me in a very hasty retreat:)
Thanks again Chris and the Walk in the Park team for a great trail running event - we will be back! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ben Lomond and Ben More

I must start this blog by clarifying that we climbed Ben Lomond and Ben More in the North Shore Mountains of southwestern British Columbia, Canada - not Scotland! ;-) It is located southeast of the town of Squamish and is described in existing trail reports as "an aesthetic pointed horn which marks the divide between the Seymour and Stawmus River watersheds on the west side of Loch Lomond".  It was first climbed in 1908 by F. Perry and W. J. Gray and presumably named in recognition of its namesake in Scotland.  It had been on our radar for sometime now given Neil is Scottish and he climbed the "real Ben Lomond" in his youth.  So when our Scottish friends proposed an outing to this wilderness area so close to Vancouver it was an easy decision to make a day of it "in the hills!"  And so with my trail companions for the day all being from Scotland, the destination intended, and with the copious heather covering the lower mountain slopes, it truly felt like I was in Scotland. 
That's Ben Lomond in the background. Glyn, Kirsty and myself.
After the 12km forest service road (4 x 4) required we parked Neil's monster truck and walked up the road until we met the trail on the left. The trail was well defined although surrounded by dense bush with berries in abundance. Some bear scat was noted.  
The trail emerges from the bush into what felt like high alpine terrain. Wild flowers were plentiful and the views very nice.

First snack break!

 
After this we met the white rock that became our terrain for the remainder of our journey.
 
 
Wind Lake, a very peaceful spot.

Glyn is so prepared. He brought a compass and a map! ;-)
I even had a mini lesson in how to use the compass on the map. Wow - that was cool! Team Dodgy I have new skills!
There was plenty of rock to traverse and climb up.
Outstanding views back to Sky Pilot.
Kirsty enjoying the views at the top of Ben Lomond (1654m/5427ft) with Bagpipe Peak to the left and Loch Lomond below.  The final summit push involves some enjoyable Class 2 - 3 scrambling.
We also went up Ben More on the return - it is right there.
Panoramic views - mountains in all directions.
Back at Wind Lake we cooled ourselves off. The air was "close" and it felt like a storm was on it's way but thankfully it never came over us.
Glyn, Kirsty and myself making our way along the side of the lake on our way out. We were 8 hours and 20 minutes to get back to the truck. The ride in the truck takes about 30 minutes each way. We were only a wee bit late for my Birthday dinner! (again)
 I would highly recommend this hike. It is a beautiful unspoiled wilderness area that gives a true perspective of the grand enormity of the Coastal Mountains. To entice, there are plenty of other Scottish named peaks in the area such as Bagpipe, Chanter, Haggis, Ben More, Ben Lui, Avon and Ben Vorlich. The Scottish trail companions completed the experience.